One of Smash Mouth’s biggest hit tracks, All Star gained further recognition when it was featured in one of the most loved animated movies, Shrek. The band is composed of Steve Harwell (vocalist), Greg Camp (guitar/lyricist), Paul De Lisle (bassist), and Jason Sutter (drummer, replacing Michael Urbano who left over artistic differences).
Over the years, the song has become so iconic that it is hard to imagine that it wasn’t originally written for the animated movie. However, the songwriter revealed that he did not want the song to feature in the movie.
Why Was Smash Mouth Songwriter Against Shrek To Feature All Star Song?
Due to the success of Walkin’ on the Sun, the members of Smash Mouth asked Greg Camp to create something else for them to perform. Upon the band members’ request, Camp composed the hit All Star track all on his own.
In order to find motivation, Camp and Robert Hayes, the band’s manager, looked at the rankings of the Billboard charts to determine which acts were doing well. Camp decided to create a song that incorporated elements from the songs of artists such as Marcy Playground, Sugar Ray, and Chumbawamba. Once he had finished writing All Star, Camp was pleased with the 1960s influences in it. This song climbed to the 4th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999.
According to The Ringer, when Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks watched an early cut of Shrek, he thought Smash Mouth’s All Star would fit well with the film. DreamWorks wanted the movie to have a daring but not too daring feel to it and felt the song encapsulated that atmosphere. Camp said he was hesitant to agree to this, as reported by Songfacts.
“Back then, that’s what it was – you don’t put your songs in commercials. Maybe a cool film or something. Even Shrek, I was kind of like, ‘Well, this is going to put us into this sort of Disney zone, and we’re going to have to stay there and we’re going to have to be writing for children and families now. I don’t think that we should do that.’”
Camp further stated that he was outvoted by the other Smash Mouth members when it came to deciding whether to put the song in the movie or not. He told Songfacts that the other members were more determined to make money instead of focusing on “longevity and credibility.”
“There were just a lot of things that we butted heads on. Everyone else was, like, ‘No, we just need to make a ton of money’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but we need longevity and credibility. We have to keep these things and keep our fans, and our fans are going to turn their backs if we start putting our songs in Pizza Hut commercials’…I was voted out on those things.”
What Inspired Smash Mouth’s Greg Camp To Write All Star?
Camp drew inspiration from the lives of Smash Mouth fans after going through fan mail. It was this fan mail that ultimately gave him the concept for All Star. Camp revealed in an interview that the Smash Mouth members would get huge piles of handwritten fan mail which they used to skim through while waiting for their clothes to dry.
“When we were on tour for the first record, it was still when people were writing fan mail in the form of paper and pencils and typewriters and stuff. We would get these big bags of fan mail and we would take them to the Laundromat and do our laundry and read all this mail while we were sitting around waiting for our clothes to get dry.”
The Smash Mouth member further elaborated that most of these fan mails were written by young kids who were bullied by their siblings for liking the rock band. This motivated the members to write a song for their fans.
“And about 85-90 percent of the mail was from these kids who were being bullied or their brothers or older siblings were giving them shit for liking Smash Mouth or liking whatever they’re doing or the way they dressed and stuff. So we were like, ‘We should write a song for fans.’”